Justice Yaw Apau
The Sole-Commissioner investigating the payments of judgement debts has stressed that it is wrong for traditional rulers to donate pieces of land to the government for development projects without recourse to families that own such lands.
He said it is even worse in areas where families own lands instead of chiefs and paramountcies saying, ‘It is not right for chiefs to donate lands when in reality it is the families that own such lands. It makes matters complicated with time.’
Justice Yaw Apau, who is also a Court of Appeal judge, made the remark when the headmaster of Yilo Krobo Senior High School appeared before the Judgement Debt Commission to testify on the school’s lands which were once donated by the Konor (Paramount Chief) of Yilo Krobo decades ago, but only gazetted under E.I. 8 in June 2001.
It emerged that about three families are currently claiming ownership of portions of the school’s 64.57 acre land and the Agbadji Family, led by one Frederick Odonkor, had already been given GH¢19,185 as compensation on the orders of a High Court in Koforidua.
Testifying, the headmaster, Matthew Lorngmor Bawah, told the Commission that the Agbadji Family sued the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly and the school over portions of the land in 1999 and judgement was entered in favour of the claimants in 2005.
He said the school is currently occupying more than half of the land and added that there were plans to start the proposed Eastern Region University on portions of the land.
‘There have been encroachments and others are in the process of encroaching the land,’ Mr. Bawah pointed out, adding that there was a woman who had sued the school to claim two plots of the land and that the case was pending in court.
‘She presented documents to show that her husband owned the land before the acquisition by the government and we are currently in court,’ he posited.
The headmaster said as part of efforts to secure the school’s lands, the management had started fencing the school, but lack of funds had hampered their effort.
The Sole-Commissioner then advised the headmaster to re-demarcate the land and serve notice to prospective owners to come forward so that the school could develop in peace.
The Coordinating Director of the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly, Elias Kwaku Mensah, also testified on the matter saying, ‘the assembly does not have anything in common with the said acquisition.’
He also confirmed that the Agbadji Family took the assembly and the school to court and the court ordered them to pay compensation.
Mr. Mensah said that the 2.55 acre land that the assembly currently occupies did not fall under the E.I. covering the school’s lands and claimed that it (assembly) paid about GH¢14,000 for that land.
He said even though the assembly’s land was acquired in 1988, they had not yet regularized the ownership.
Later, Chief Valuer at the Lands Commission who is currently out of the jurisdiction, was expected to represent the Executive Secretary in the case involving the Agbadji Family compensation.
Also, the Attorney-General/Solicitor-General was expected to testify in the Peter Abbam compensation case, but wrote to ask for more time.
By William Yaw Owusu
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